Titanic in Belfast
My Tour Talk have created the ultimate app for the Belfast visitor experience, everything from Paint Hall to wi-fi hotspots
'There's an app for that' is increasingly a truism rather than a slogan. With the launch of Titanic in Belfast, a smartphone tour guide by My Tour Talk created with support from the Creative Industries Innovation Fund, there's now an app for Belfast.
A slick design, user-friendly interface and easy-to-follow directions make this app-based guide to the Titanic a pleasure to use. The tour starts at Donegall Quay – where Belfast began – and takes you on a meandering walk through the Titanic Quarter, ending up at the Thompson Pumphouse and Dry Dock.
Stops include Titanic Belfast, Paint Hall, the SS Nomadic and other iconic landmarks. Unlike some self-guided tours – where it is just you, a cartoony map and a detour into the bad part of whatever town it is – Titanic in Belfast makes it easy to get to where you are supposed to be going.
The in-app map is simple to use, with geolocated attractions and a 'where am I?' feature if you do make a detour. Terrible at reading maps? Then Ciaran Nolan's cheerful, unhurried voice-over tells you what way to head and what side the landmarks should be on.
Someone lacking the most remedial sense of direction (such as this arts journalist, who has gotten lost in car parks both foreign and local) can feel confident with this app in their pocket. Yet the voice-over is conversational enough that those a bit more confident in their navigational abilities aren't going to get impatient with it.
At the various attractions, Nolan hands over narrating duties to the gruff-voiced Vincent Higgins. He provides a nicely matched to a walking pace description of the landmark, both its history and its present day usage. If you are already familiar with the Titanic story, some of the information retreads familiar ground. A lot of, however, should be news to all but the most dedicated Titanorak.
Did you know where the phrase, 'Do you think I came up the Lagan in a bubble?' came from? Higgins has a theory involving a 'wee lad', a Victorian People's Park and a model bird. Other tidbits of information include the coal-carrying capacity of the Titanic and a useful shipyard glossary. It is all expertly researched and authentically presented.
At one stop there is even an interview with Johnny Andrews, the descendent of Titanic designer Thomas Andrews. It is a fascinating reminder about the real life people behind the iconic story.
With the ability to stop and start the tour, skip stops you aren't interested in or come back and finish it later, Titanic in Belfast is a personalised Titanic tour. The thing is, that actually sells the app short.
Bundled in with the Titanic tour is something that approaches the ultimate city guide for tourists. It includes attractions, hotels, restaurants and where to find the best wi-fi hotspots. (Not that you need wi-fi to use the tour. It runs completely off-line). There is even a direct link to the departures board at the airport, so tourists can check if their flight home is leaving on time.
Nearly everything a tourist might want or need can be found using this app. Literally, since everything is geolocated so you can find it on the map. Even if you didn't want to do the Titanic tour, it's almost worth the £1.49 just for the city guide.
It isn't completely comprehensive, not every pub or restaurant is listed, and it is probably an effect you could mimic with a couple of other apps. However, having it all bundled together for easy access makes it convenient.The best way I found to use it was through the My Map section, since that made it easy to find the locations closest to you.
The only other thing that would make this app better, is if they had more city guides available. As it is, this is an immersive, relaxed tour of the Belfast Titanic Quarter that any tourist should enjoy. As My Tour Talk founder Julie McNeice puts it, 'It's like having a local in your pocket.'
Download the Android or iPhone app at the My Tour Talk website.